Overseas Walks: Stepping out on the Galapa gos islands
What’s that in the middle of the road? It’s an enormous tortoise. Stop the bus! It was huge and asleep. There was another one on the side of the road and watch out, the poo is equally big! Don’t step in it.
So here we are, rocking a bit and the engine is noisy but we are so tired after out 3.30 am wake up that I think we’ll sleep anyway? 20 people in the group so the boat is full.
The whole cabin is about as big as our dining area but is on the top deck, nothing but the best for us girls, with a large window. The bathroom is smaller than a friend’s pantry. Much smaller. Have you ever slept in a slightly moving hammock with a 10 ton truck idling beside you? In spite of it we will sleep. A little rock and roll in the night when I thought if I turn over I’m on the floor. The bed is so very narrow.
And that is our introduction to four days visiting several of the Galapagos Islands.
This afternoon we drove off over the hill for 45 minutes to the Darwin Centre where they are doing their best to see that the giant tortoise and big yellow land lizards last us out. We seem to have done our best to nearly “extinct “them.
The land lizards are such a pretty yellow, gold colour and about two metres long. Just two of them and they seemed to be ignoring each other. I suppose it was great to see the efforts being made to enlarge the stock so to speak but we’re glad we saw that tortoise, along the roadside.
We walked quite a distance and saw several of those blackish marine lizards. None of them were spitting. Shame . A good spit is what is expected except it’s from their nostrils.
We had time for some shopping as we strolled back to the port. Surprisingly about 30,000 people live on the Galapagos Islands, 15,000 in the port of Santa Cruz. We saw some beautiful souvenirs but resisted the impulse buys as we had adventures ahead.
It was up at 6.30am, breakfast at 7.30am. and then off and away in the
We always park out in the bay and no wet landings yet. Today we have seen dolphins, monster bright red crabs, rather large yellow land lizards, Galapagos penguins. Penguins at the equator, very odd. A bit bigger than our little blues. More marine lizards and a magnificent display from the frigate birds that scrambled over our boat waiting for scraps.
We walked in the morning and it was very hot. A bit like in the Australian desert. That’s where we saw the land lizards. So hard to spot, but one was conveniently snoozing about a yard off the track.
We walked again in the late afternoon. Would you believe up 369 steps plus a board walk up to the summit of an extinct volcano. Only 180 metres but it felt perpendicular. Thank goodness for our training regime.
The views were amazing and below we could see quite clearly the rim of an underwater crater.
In the afternoon we all went snorkelling. I didn’t feel that confident having shrunk from water for the last goodness knows how long. So one of the French guides took two French ladies and myself out with him. He just gave that little bit of bravado. Magnifique. Lots of silver, transparent fish, some zebras and a little team of Angel fish. But wait for it. A turtle and a penguin, swimming up close.
It’s all very interesting in that we have already been to two islands and both were quite different.
This morning was dry with lots of magnificent cactus and trees that look dead but will burst into leaf after the first rain next month. Acres of dried grasses and a little green from the leaf like stems of some trees.
In the distance the “dead” trees look like fog in the valleys.
This afternoon we climbed up to the crater rim of a small island. The island is only 1000 years old. Very recent activity so was all lava, lava flows and craters. A bit moon like.
No water anywhere and the few plants, creepers just looked dead ground cover. If you were shipwrecked there you died!
In the afternoon it was too cold for us to snorkel so we stayed on the boat. It had its pluses as we saw six sea turtles float past. They stick their little heads up and have a look around and then several dolphins gave us a great display very close to the boat. Even the captain came out shouting.
We saw a huge stingray, black with white spots and several sharks circling around. The crew insist that they won’t bite humans but I wouldn’t like to confront one when snorkelling.
Suddenly a huge frigate bird almost decapitated us and landed on the railing beside us. Oh my goodness.
This morning, having sailed to another island, we walked along a red beach, with quite coarse sand and came across several, sea lions basking.
One young fellow was frolicking in the waves and putting on a good circus act. They look beautiful in the water but a bit disgruntled on land.
We are able to go within two metres of any animal, bird whatever. The pelicans , grey not white like the Queensland variety, were feeding madly very close to shore. The beach fell away very quickly so they were diving within metres of us.
But then.........what we came for ?? Blue Boobys. Such blue feet . Very very bright light blue. Sitting there on the
rocks minding their own business and calling and whistling to the opposite sex. Whoops, what was that.... They don’t just drop their poo, they shoot it out with great force. You wouldn’t want to be in the firing line as its jet propelled.
It is fascinating to watch them feeding. Like the pelicans they were feeding very close in beside where we were walking.
This afternoon we walked on another beach, this time with amazingly soft sand, like talcum powder . Every island has been different. We saw ghost crabs, bright red and very quick to disappear. They left wonderful markings on the beach. They chew up their dinner and then spit out the sand and waste in tiny little balls. The ground looks like an Aboriginal painting!!
Our last morning! Up at 5am breakfast at 6.30am, on a zodiac at 7.30 am and off to find turtles, sharks and stingrays. Not snorkelling thank you!
We pushed our way into a mangrove swamp and were immediately surrounded by sharks, some quite big.
Then it was turtle spotting. First little periscope heads appeared then the whole shell. A deep breath and they are gone again. The sting rays were harder to spot, black with small white dots. We spent an hour drifting, using oars to be silent. It was lovely to be in the quiet.
The mangroves were much bigger than ours, quite old with proper trunks. Eventually, out we popped to find some more blue footed boobies right up close.
What a magnificent adventure and far too short as there were many more islands to explore.
It wasn’t quite a “David Attenborough” experience but then we didn’t have months to wait for that photographic moment. We walked every day and although it was very hot we all felt comfortable in the dry heat. It’s the humidity at home that is so trying.
If you have the opportunity to visit the islands, don’t miss it.
Above left: Basking in the sunshine. Below left: I could be nearly 100 years old.
Stepping out on the Galapagos islands
Above left: Resting in the sunshine. Above right: Every island was different. Below left: Gold land lizards. Below right: Bright red crabs everywhere. Opposite page below left: Two blue boobys up close.
Above: Nothing grows here. It’s all lava. Below left: Our home for five days.